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Kentucky Derby: Time to change horse racing’s Triple Crown

OK, I’ve modified my thoughts.

It’s time to tweak the Triple Crown.

That’s no longer what I stated every week pass. Asked on a radio display if it used to be time to transport the Triple Crown round, I stated no. Just as a result of Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike used to be turning his again at the Preakness didn’t imply we must flip our again on racing historical past.

Then they ran the Preakness. Last Saturday’s race used to be excellent, no longer nice. Early Voting used to be a worthy winner. But with out a wholesome Kentucky Derby winner for the primary time since Spend a Buck in 1985 — particularly one who captured the general public’s center via profitable the “Run for the Roses” as an 80-1 shot — the Preakness used to be, neatly, simply some other race.

The final thing horse racing wishes at this time is for the second one leg of the Triple Crown to be simply some other race.

“It boggles my mind when smart people refuse to see simple facts,” NBC racing analyst Randy Moss tweeted. “Many of today’s top horses that run well in the Derby skip the Preakness because the 2-week gap. That’s a fact. This is bad for the Triple Crown and thus bad for the sport. Another fact. So fix it.”

Problem: The recreation has modified. The breed has modified. Trainers and house owners simply don’t run their horses off two weeks relaxation anymore.

The resolution: Move the Preakness to the primary Saturday in June, the Belmont the primary week in July.

I’m no longer blaming Rich Strike. His connections did what used to be in the most productive passion of the pony, sitting out the Preakness to arrange for the Belmont. And Rich Strike wasn’t the one one to skip the commute to Baltimore, in any case. Just 3 of the 20 colts who ran within the Kentucky Derby additionally ran within the Preakness. Blue Grass Stakes winner and third-place Derby finisher Zandon stayed house. So did Wood Memorial winner Mo Donegal.

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Jose Ortiz atop Early Voting, left, and John Velazquez aboard Simplification, proper, compete within the 147th operating of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday in Baltimore. Julio Cortez AP

What about custom? Isn’t the Triple Crown meant to be tough? There is a explanation why simplest 13 colts have completed the grueling activity, why we went 37 years between Affirmed in 1978 and American Pharoah in 2015. But I’m no longer positive it will be any simpler if the Preakness used to be run a month after the Derby and the Belmont a month after the Preakness.

The fields could be higher, deeper and extra recognizable to most people. You may observe the growth of a skilled colt from one race to the following in a chain of races, as an alternative of 3 particular person races. Competition, as an alternative of stamina, will be the deciding issue.

What concerning the argument the general public would become bored if the races have been spaced farther aside? That’s a valid fear, however I’m no longer positive it’s extra regarding than the drop in passion when the Derby winner declines the Preakness, or the Preakness winner declines the Belmont, as Early Voting’s connections have indicated they’re more likely to do.

True, resisting trade for goodbye is what has held the game again for goodbye. With the brand new Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, led via new CEO Lisa Lazarus, there’s a golden alternative to modify the game, to make it no longer simply more secure however extra united and more straightforward for most people to observe and agree with. There’s a possibility for a recent get started. The similar alternative exists for the Triple Crown.

After all, Pimlico is ready to go through a significant renovation. The powers that be aren’t spending hundreds of thousands simply to look the Kentucky Derby winner keep house. The observe’s proprietor, 1/ST Racing, is reportedly open to the potential of converting the Preakness date in hopes of drawing extra passion from connections who ran within the first leg of the Triple Crown.

NYRA, which runs the Belmont, seems extra hesitant. “We have to be very thoughtful about any proposed changes,” NYRA CEO David O’Rourke instructed the Thoroughbred Daily News.

Thoughtful, sure; resistant, no. When it involves the Triple Crown, trade must be the secret.

John Clay is a sports activities columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A local of Central Kentucky, he lined UK soccer from 1987 till being named sports activities columnist in 2000. He has lined 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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